3 Best Rafting Trips on the Colorado River
With rocky walls towering above and the sound of roaring water rising, Captain Matt Thorne readies to row through Westwater Canyon’s infamous Skull Rapids. It’s one of the canyon’s least-forgiving rapids, with the reputation for sucking your boat into the Room of Doom — a rock alcove with a current powerful enough to flip and destroy rafts.
Fortunately, Thorne is a veteran guide, and he paddles hard and fast, maneuvering around the boat-eating hole and through the Skull’s circling pools and relentless waves. Icy water slams our faces as our six-person crew emerges from the eddy laughing, smiling and soaked — glad to have taken the advice to wear wetsuits on this 90-degree day. Skull is the trip’s last big rapid, and after making it through unscathed, we dry off under sunny skies and float through calmer waters toward Cisco, Utah. This ghost town takeout is the last port of call on our two-day journey through this wildly remote place.
Westwater Canyon is just one of many epic trips on the grand Colorado River as it flows through Utah, and its combination of raging waves, historical sites, and isolated camping make it my favorite. But for those looking to chart these untamed waters by raft, all three trips offer incredible experiences like those had by explorers of yesteryear — with much better equipment, of course.